In a seminar today we were asked where we would put ourselves on a scale from 0-10 where private is 0 and open is 10. Is this even the right scale to be talking about and through? I wonder whether we are using appropriate language to critically talk about what we mean by privacy in the post-digital age…
Privacy is a term that is politically loaded and its understanding is often misconstrued as secrecy. Secrecy is about withholding or ‘closing’ down information, whereas privacy is about controlling the environment in which information is being shared so that it is not circulated in unintended ways. Furthermore, when considering open rhetoric, it is often with reference to transparency, which again is arguably antithetical to secrecy. Openness however, also refers to ownership and collaboration (Shah, 2013) of which I am also I big advocate of.
I say this because I actually consider myself to be quite ‘open’: I am usually happy to transparently share information with people I trust. My IBD is not a secret, but there are some instances in which I just will not share my sensitive information (symptoms, medication and so on): even if I trust the person, I may not trust the infrastructure or environment. So I really cannot put myself on an overall scale: I am open (transparent, collaborative) and I take ownership of the control of my data and metadata. I will take more controlling measures over things that I deem personal and sensitive, than what information I am happy to share publicly.
So I wonder whether the scale should be redefined as a scale of control rather than private or open. Any thoughts?